Boston Art Commission Approves 20-Sculpture Exhibit Along the Harborwalk

The Boston Art Commission (BAC) on Tuesday approved a public art exhibit titled Of Many Minds, to be located along the Boston Harborwalk in the Charlestown Navy Yard.

The exhibit is proposed by the Navy Yard Garden Association and the artist is Michael Alfano, who presented the proposal to the Commission.

Alfano said that the exhibit includes 20 sculptures along the Harborwalk that would be installed this June and remain in place until December 18, 2023, when they would be removed. He said that the artwork will be “accessible to people of all ages and abilities,” and is “intended to celebrate our differences and our commonalities.”

Each sculpture will feature a sign on the base with information about it, as well as a QR code for people to scan on their phones to learn more. Alfano said that all chosen sites are in locations that will make snow removal easy, and all sculptures are on cement pads. For the sculptures that are to be placed on grass, Alfano said that the Boston Planning and Development Agency will re-seed those areas after the exhibit is removed next year.

The locations of the sculptures ranges from the USS Constitution to Menino Park at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.

Alfano briefly went through the site plan, explaining the different groups of sculptures that would be placed along the Harborwalk, and explained the materials that would be used for each, which range from bronze to aluminum to stainless steel to fiberglas resin.

He said that the sculptures will be “securely bolted,” and that the selected materials are “sturdy” and able to hold up to the elements. He said that there is no maintenance planned for the sculptures throughout the exhibit’s run time, but they “will be closely monitored throughout the exhibit.”

Alfano said that the signage is proposed to be on the base of each sculpture “in a way that will be easy to read,” and he said that the QR codes will offer “perhaps in multiple languages the information about the sculpture.:

Commissioner Camilo Alvarez asked about lighting for the exhibit, and Alfano said that the “walkway and Harborwalk is fairly well-lit as a pedestrian area for people to use day and night. At this point, there is no proposed additional lighting on the sculptures aside from ambient light.”

Commissioner Euka Holmes said that she likes the fact that these sculptures are “different ideas from one artist presented together,” and she said she also likes the number of art pieces that are part of this exhibit, as well as the community support it has received. 

Hallie Pinta of the Navy Yard Garden Association said that “this is our third large public art exhibit of approximately the same size,” and the group has been “working really hard to get people to walk the Harborwalk.”

Pinta added that this exhibit will “become a component of [Alfano’s] website, which will describe his quotes and thoughts that inspired him for each piece of art.”

Richard Mulligan of the Boston Planning and Develoment Agency (BPDA) said “it’s really fantastic,” and said he is sympathetic to Commission concerns about how the pieces will be bolted to the ground. He said that “artists are very concerned about their artwork” and ensuring that the sculptures are secure, as is the BPDA. “Liability is a major factor for us,” he said.

“I just think it’s wonderful for waterfront activation,” Mulligan said, adding that he believes it’s “much needed” and that he is in support of the exhibit.

Ultimately, the BAC voted to approve the installation of the exhibit as presented, and the installation is planned for June 13 of this year.

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